Feminist Writing. Fourth Wave. For Women.

Be Careful What You Swallow

Right wing journalists and politicians are unlikely to rid us of the lunatic left. If we are unlucky, they are going to be the death of us.

Be Careful What You Swallow

Since time immemorial women have faced a quandary. To rid themselves of a violent man from their household, they have often resorted to enlisting the assistance of a bigger and stronger male. Unfortunately, this runs the risk of simply compounding the nature of their dilemma. It is a bit like the old lady who swallowed a fly. We don’t know why she swallowed the fly, but it is something that can happen to the best of us. However, her subsequent actions in swallowing increasingly large animals to catch the previous one is what lands her in real trouble. While generally described as a nonsense rhyme, the allegory is clear.

Unfortunately, in her panic the old lady seems to have overlooked the fact that the cure may be far worse than the “disease”. It reminds me of a mother whose four-year-old son expressed a liking for girly things, and in her self-described “terror”, she finds herself pursuing a course of medical interventions culminating in having him castrated in Thailand when he is 16 years old. Attempting to change sex sounds a lot like swallowing a horse – a misconceived and life-threatening endeavour that is ultimately impossible.

Of course, the real question is why should a mere fly, or a remark by a toddler, inspire such drastic measures. I think in the case of Suzie Green we know from her own account that the father’s homophobic disapproval played a role. Fear of abusive men drives women to do desperate things, including seeking out defenders among those in authority.

Because it is not only physically strong men that women recruit in their defence, but those with institutional power and authority. Women too often place inordinate faith in law enforcement officers, judges, religious leaders and doctors, only to be bitterly disappointed. Women routinely rely on assistance from these individuals, even though they represent institutions that are themselves the embodiment of male control over women.

The legal system, the major religions and the medical profession all have long and shameful histories of oppressing, torturing and murdering women to assert their authority. The hunting and burning of witches involved collusion by all three of these institutions, and they have historically continued to collaborate to restrict women’s reproductive rights and freedoms generally.  Unfortunately, this is a history which receives little to no attention in the school curriculum taught to our daughters.

We are currently experiencing a particularly strenuous pushback against the gains of second wave feminism and our increasing reproductive rights and freedoms. Religious fundamentalism has risen to worldwide prominence since the 1970s, obstetric violence and other health care violations against women persist and our legal systems continue to serve wealthy male interests and are largely unresponsive to the needs of women. Indeed, we are now seeing laws ostensibly designed for our protection being repurposed and used as weapons against us.

In Australia, women reporting domestic violence to police are frequently finding themselves being charged instead. The rate of female incarceration is rising disproportionately to that of males, although women still make up only a small minority of the prison population. In the family court mothers who raise complaints about abusive fathers are routinely accused of “parental alienation” and are having their children removed and placed in the perpetrator’s care. Meanwhile discrimination laws are being used to prevent men from being excluded from women’s single sex services and facilities and sport. Women’s scholarships, quotas and other affirmative action measures designed to advance equality are increasingly dismantled by demands that males who identify as women or non-binary must also be included. Now we are compelled, both socially and legally, to accept as women any male who declares himself to be one, with no questions asked.

Unfortunately, too many women have uncritically swallowed gender ideology upon which many of these changes to policy and legislation have been based. Thinking they are being kind, many have agreed that biological differences between men and women don’t matter, and don’t even exist. In demanding equality and asking for fathers to carry their share of parenting responsibility, women have traded off legal recognition of the unique and indispensable role of mothers. In acquiescing to the claim that men can do everything women can do, the marvels of gestation and lactation have been minimised out of respect for men’s feelings. The essential role of mothers in safeguarding children from violent and sexually predatory males is never mentioned, lest it hurt the feelings of those same men. This approach has also opened the way for an industry catering to gay men who feel no compunction about using women as breeding vessels to satisfy their parenting whims.

It is not suggested that it is wise or practicable for women to reject all assistance from men or shun all engagement with these pillars of the patriarchy, but they should take care what they swallow or encourage their children to swallow in this context. Where is the proverbial grain of salt that should accompany laws that recognise change of sex, ignore biological reality and which legitimise medical interventions with irreversible harmful effects? Many of us experience discomfort and dissatisfaction with our physical selves, but recognise that there is no cure in swallowing a cascade of nonsense.

However, among those who have actively resisted the lure of gender ideology and the emotive claims and threats of trans rights activists on the left, there is a worrying tendency to rely instead on support from religious and misogynistic parliamentarians and media commentators whose agendas are ultimately committed to undermining the rights of women.  For example, it was extraordinary to see an avowedly feminist activist on television proudly citing the support of a string of notoriously sexist former Australian Prime Ministers. Like the old lady who swallowed a fly, some women are willing to ingest any farmyard animal with promise. However, right wing journalists and politicians are unlikely to rid us of this fly from the lunatic left, and if we are unlucky they are going to be the death of us. When we ingest false hope and the ever increasing lies of men in our desperation to find a cure, we just risk inflicting on ourselves even greater harm.

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